American Cities With Booming (and Shrinking) Incomes

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 Shrinking Incomes

25. Watertown-Fort Drum, NY
> Personal income growth (2013-2014):
0.6%
> Per capita personal income: $40,689
> May unemployment rate: 5.8%
> Employment chg.: 0.5%

While income nationwide grew by 2.9% in 2014, total personal income in the Watertown-Fort Drum metro area increased by just 0.6%, one of the slowest growth rates of any metropolitan area. Watertown-Fort Drum’s workforce is growing very slowly. While the U.S. workforce grew by 1.9% in 2014, nonfarm employment in the metro workforce grew by just 0.5%. With the area’s economy highly dependent on Fort Drum military base, the metro was at risk of further economic drag during the 2014 federal military budget cuts. Of the 40,000 military positions that were nationwide, 28 were from Fort Drum.

Topeka, Kansas
Source: Thinkstock

24. Topeka, KS
> Personal income growth (2013-2014):
0.5%
> Per capita personal income: $41,734
> May unemployment rate: 4.0%
> Employment growth: 1.2%

Total income in Topeka grew by just 0.5%, even as national incomes increased by nearly 3%. The employed population grew slower than the nation’s workforce, 1.2% in Topeka versus 1.9% nationwide, which partially explains the modest income rise. Declining populations are a further indication of weak economic conditions, and while the national population grew by 0.8%, Topeka’s population shrank by 0.1%. The metro area’s incomes also likely suffered from lower employment in the construction and educational services industries, which each shed hundreds of jobs in 2014.

Sioux City, Iowa
Source: Thinkstock

23. Sioux City, IA-NE-SD
> Personal income growth (2013-2014):
0.5%
> Per capita personal income: $45,675
> May unemployment rate: 3.3%
> Employment growth: 1.2%

Sioux City’s manufacturing sector grew by more than 1,400 jobs in 2014, likely adding to the area’s total income. However, the western Iowa metropolitan area lost hundreds of jobs in a number of industries, including in agriculture, finance, and construction. While the city’s population increased slightly, by 0.1%, its working-age population actually declined by 0.5%. The employed population grew by a below-average 1.2%, contributing to the tepid personal income growth.

22. Janesville-Beloit, WI
> Personal income growth (2013-2014):
0.5%
> Per capita personal income: $38,514
> May unemployment rate: 4.4%
> Employment growth: 1.4%

The manufacturing sector in the Janesville-Beloit metro area gained more than 2,000 jobs in 2014. The income added by these jobs was not enough to improve the tepid total income growth of 0.5%, however. The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting and mining industry as well as the area’s construction industry each recorded job losses for the year. Notably, employment levels in the traditionally high paying finance and insurance, as well as the professional and scientific sectors also declined.

21. Lawton, OK
> Personal income growth (2013-2014):
0.5%
> Per capita personal income: $37,723
> May unemployment rate: 4.6%
> Employment growth: 0.4%

In Lawton, Oklahoma, total income grew by just 0.5%, well below the national income growth of 2.9%. Income in a metro area is determined in part by changes in salaries. Incomes can also decline because there are fewer individuals earning incomes. While the employment levels nationally grew 1.9%, Lawton’s workforce increased by just 0.4%.